Why Having an Exercise Support Group Matters

10488070_10204301555284027_9149319925101474325_n

Over two years ago, I sat in the goodbye circle at Diabetes Training Camp and nervously awaited my turn to speak. Our instructions in the circle were to share what we learned at camp and what things we were going to take away from camp to implement in our lives back home. As I sat there listening to others and waiting for my turn, the thing that struck me as the most powerful part about my time at camp was how much the camaraderie of others fueled my runs, swims and exercise classes. Everything seemed easier, more fun and more satisfying than training alone, as I had always done. When it was my turn to speak, I choked back tears as I tried to explain what a meaningful week it had been for me. Immersing myself with other people committed to living and thriving with exercise, nutrition and a positive mental attitude was the most amazing experience. And then I vowed, out loud, to 30 people, that when I got home I was going to find an exercise group. I was going to bundle up all the positive energy from group exercise at camp and go home and find workout partners!

But I did not. When I got home I missed my friends at camp, but went right on exercising alone. To the pool by myself.  To the gym by myself. On runs by myself, or with my occasional four-legged, furry training partner, Buster. I did not keep my promise. I went back to camp two more times and always felt more and more inspired by the camaraderie at camp, but I still didn’t seek out others to train with once camp finished. My schedule was too busy. My family, my kids’ sports, my private practice, my volunteering. It would be way too difficult to coordinate training partners around all of that, I rationalized.

And then, at a kid’s birthday party this summer, a fellow dietitian and avid runner told me about a running group called the Sole Sisters (pictured above). They were a local group of women runners of all different levels, who had formed a closed Facebook group that they used to  coordinate group runs and support each other. Was I interested in being added to the list? “Sure,” I said.

After being addd to the group, I received 20 or more warm Facebook welcomes from women I had never met. Some were training for marathons, some for halfs, and some for 5Ks. I felt honored to be a part of the Sole Sisters running group and to go on 5 mile, 8 mile, 10 mile and 12 mile runs with these amazing, strong, funny, humble and undoubtedly cool women. They kept me going when I wanted to stop. They gave me strength when I quietly worried in my head that I did not have enough. They made me laugh with stories about parenting, husbands and play groups. They made it all seem easier, more fun and more rewarding.

And then I realized that I had finally found official running partners. It took me 2 years and 3 months to actually make good on my goodbye circle promise at camp. But it has been so rewarding and so good and it’s reminded me that it’s never too late to do something that you wanted to try to do. Do you have anything you committed to that you haven’t done yet? It is never too late to get out there and make it happen!